SYNOPSIS: Forever alone in a crowd, Arthur Fleck seeks connection. Yet, as he trods the sooted Gotham City streets and rides the graffitied mass transit rails of a hostile town teeming with division and dissatisfaction, Arthur wears two masks. One, he paints on for his day job as a clown. The other he can never remove; it’s the guise he projects in a futile attempt to feel he’s a part of the world around him, and not the misunderstood man whom life is repeatedly beating down. Fatherless, Arthur has a fragile mother, arguably his best friend, who nicknamed him Happy, a moniker that’s fostered in Arthur a smile that hides the heartache beneath. But, when bullied by teens on the streets, taunted by suits on the subway, or simply teased by his fellow clowns at work, this social outlier only becomes even more out of sync with everyone around him.
REVIEW:Arthur Fleck: I used to think that my life was a tragedy, but now I realize, it's a comedy.
Cesar Romero, Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill, Heath Ledger, and Jared Leto are the more well-known personas to have given us an interpretation of one of the most popular comic book villains in history. Now we are treated to Joaquin Phoenix bringing us a new and improved rendition of this extraordinarily complex character and who better than him today. I will tell you this, Mr. Fleck might think his life is a comedy, but this film is definitely NO COMEDY! The Joker character is so complex that each of those actors brought us a distinctly different version even though they also have a lot of similarities. After discussing the film with my own partner in crime, Priscilla, we agreed that the two most similar of these versions would have to be Heath and Joaquin. Having said that, if you thought Heath’s version was dark and demented, sinister and unstable, well you ain’t seen nothing yet. Believe it or not, Joaquin takes us to further depths and darkness. This film is depressing, disturbing, dark and full of gloom. I would almost categorize it as a horror film. Right off the bat, the foundation of the film is dark being set in 80s Gotham where the human condition is in complete turmoil. The classes have never been so divided and the common folk are in disarray.
Arthur Fleck: Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?
Now imagine a man in his 30s or so, who takes care of his elderly invalid mother, struggling in this unforgiving and unhelpful society to make ends meet, and oh yeah, by the way, has an obscure mental illness that is not easily detected or understood. Well then here we have a victim of society in its truest form.
Arthur Fleck: [written in notebook] The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don't.
This film reminds me a lot of what Christopher Nolan did for the Batman character. Nolan brought us a grounded and much more realistic Batman that was believable and not just a comic book character. I believe this is the reason why many consider the Nolan Batman trilogy to be arguably some of the best superhero films ever. Director Todd Phillips has brought us something along those lines for the Joker, but even more dark and real if you can imagine that. I happen to have watched a youtube video about Joaquin’s filmography before watching this film (you know to prep up) and there is an obvious pattern of very disturbed characters that Joaquin has played throughout his career. He really is good at it. Well, I haven’t seen all his movies, but of what I have seen and heard about, I could still argue that this is potentially his masterpiece. What a performance! Everybody else in the cast was in his shadow. He commanded the screen whenever he was on it which was pretty much the entire film. But there is even more to this movie than just Joaquin giving us the performance of a lifetime. Practically all aspects of the film contribute greatly to the overall somber mood of this story. The cinematography is about as good as anything I have ever seen. The music was so appropriate as well as the wardrobe and costumes. And as if it still wasn’t enough, we get a major TWIST, and I mean major, but then we get another twist. Yes I’m being ambiguous on purpose.
Arthur Fleck: My mother always tells me to smile and put on a happy face. She told me I had a purpose: to bring laughter and joy to the world.
AND CHAOS! This film couldn’t have been released at a better time . . . Happy Halloween everybody and enjoy.
P.S. I feel obligated to alert you all to the following: I have been reviewing movies for more than 10 years now and I don’t recall ever attending a screening with as much safety and security measures as with this film. After watching it, I understand why. I do recommend this film because it is a work of art, but just be extra careful when you go, please. And please, let’s all enjoy it and keep in mind, it is just a movie.
Review By Cine Marcos